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How To Prevent Data Breaches With Cybersecurity Best Practices

Thanks to Brent S. from North America for sharing!

No matter what company you work at, chances are that you’ve had some training on how to stay safe online while at work. But more often than not, the only time you hear about these online best practices is during your orientation week. This is a problem because employees, those on the front lines tasked with protecting company information, can become relaxed with the way they use the internet while at work. 

With the increasing popularity of data breaches in the news, safe practices are more important than ever. For example, Microsoft recently experienced a data breach where over 250 million customer records were exposed. To prevent these types of information leaks within your own company, here are a few best practices to follow when it comes to cybersafety.

Be careful who you give information to

Whether we’re on the job or not, we should always be cautious to who we give our information to. Identifiable information like social security numbers, credit/debit card numbers, or any other information like account passwords should not be shared with unreliable sources. While sometimes it might be hard to differentiate, internet users should always get a second opinion if they are questioning a source’s legitimacy.  

It is important to not leak your company’s information or intellectual property, as well. Be aware of who you’re sharing company strategies with and where they are posted online. Even something as simple as a picture of you in the office posted on social media can cause a data breach if there is, say, a whiteboard with company information on it.

Protect your passwords

Strong and complex passwords can help combat against cybercriminals who want to hack your information. If one were to figure out your password to your company email or network, there is a high chance that your data could be compromised. It’s essential to always try a variety of unique passwords to keep data safe.

Proper passwords should not include personal information like family names, pet names, addresses, or birthdays. As many password authentication companies explain, they should be at least 10 characters long, contain both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. However, mixing up a variety of characters while also having a password that’s non-personal and easy to remember can be difficult. So for those of us who need our passwords written down, try using just a plain piece of paper that you can safely tuck away or an electronic password protector. That way you can remember your logins while also keeping them safe.

Use the proper software

Using proper software is important for keeping your information secure, but first you need to make sure the software that you already own is updated. Before buying any outside softwares, you should first make sure your device’s current software is up to date. Many of us put off updating our software because we don’t want to take the time to wait for the system to load. Unfortunately, this can leave holes in your security system as the software becomes outdated, so make sure to update your devices as soon as you can. 

Other security systems — like firewalls, antivirus, antimalware, etc.— are great ways to make sure that your devices are protected with cybersecurity software. Getting a security suite is also a great option because you know you’ll have your bases covered with an all-inclusive system to block out any cybercriminals. Virtual private networks, or VPNs for short, are a lesser-known type of software. They’re used to help protect your devices when you log into a public network. Many remote workers or employees who frequently travel for work are common users of VPNs, but in reality, everyone should invest. 

VPNs essentially make your computer invisible; consequently, it becomes more difficult for cybercriminals to hack into your device. That’s because this software hides your IP address, so you can connect to public Wi-Fi networks without the risk of exposure. 

Making your device “invisible” can be a fool-proof way of keeping your information secure from those who want to hack into your device directly rather than through things like phishing tactics.

Stay away from unreliable emails, links, and pop-ups

If you have a job where you frequently use email every day, you’ll notice that spam emails come into your inbox. These emails, known as phishing emails, usually promote links or unsolicited pop-ups. Phishing emails are used by cybercriminals as a way to steal your information. They can seem to come from a familiar company, a co-worker, or even a friend, but they shouldn’t be trusted. In fact, they are just hackers who want you to click on a link so they can download a virus to your device and steal your information. Either that, or they will try to obtain it by tricking you into handing it out through something like an online form or fake login.

Once you’re completely sure the email is fake, you’ll need a strategy to handle it. The best way to avoid these tactics is to simply delete the email, link, or file that's been sent to you. That way you know it won’t live on your device and have the potential to be accidentally opened. There are also ways you can report these incidents so the organization of Certified Information Systems Auditors is aware of what’s happening online. Unfortunately, because cybercriminals are so crafty in their tactics, at times it can be quite hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. If you are ever questioning an email, link, or file, show your IT department before opening just to be safe. 

The first step in making sure your company’s information is safe is to know how to avoid cybercriminals. More often now than ever, data breaches are occurring that could easily be avoided by employees knowing what to look out for online. Just a single, simple mistake could be the difference between a successful year and a costly data breach. So make sure your staff is well informed and looking for any signs of foul play online.


Editor's note:

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